June 4, 2011 Posted by Emily in Business, Montana, News, Regional
Click to share thisClick to share this

Airport expansion

Story and photo by Emily Stifler | video by Brian Niles

This June and July, Gallatin Field Airport will complete a major expansion that has been in construction for two years. The opening will be in three phases.

Part of the concourse upstairs from the Delta gates opened June 7, when the airport started its summer schedule. The concourse itself and all the gates will open June 30. The entire terminal will open July 20. According to the airport’s Deputy Director Scott Humphrey, the new terminal adds about 125,000 square feet to the existing building. The new footprint will have 200,000 square feet of terminal, making it the largest in Montana.

Major changes will include a new entrance and passenger check-in area, four new gates, more efficient passenger security screening, TSA bag screening behind closed doors, and indoor storage for airline machinery.

In the previous 12 calendar months, a record 380,000 enplaning passengers came through Gallatin Field—12 percent growth in the past seven months. Normal growth is 4-5 percent. Humphrey said, “Since 2009, there’s been a lot of pent up demand to travel, and I think that’s what we’re seeing now. Yellowstone Park and Big Sky play a large part for us.”

Funding for the $40 million expansion came from three sources: a $16 million airport bond, the Airport Improvement Program, and internal funds generated by Gallatin Field’s revenue. Martel Construction was the project’s general contractor.

Generally, 18-21 commercial flights come through Gallatin Field daily, though those numbers change seasonally, Humphrey said. The airport doesn’t have new flights lined up immediately, but the expansion will give everyone a lot more room, particularly solving the morning time crunch. More than 200 people work at the airport complex.

The existing terminal was built in 1977, and before that, the airport was in the current fire station. With large timbers spanning a vaulted ceiling and masonry walls, streetlights and a bistro, “The new terminal will have a Bozeman flair, but keep the cabin look of the existing terminal,” Humphrey said. It will also have two elevators and two escalators—the only escalators in the Gallatin Valley.